Portrait of Spijker, a Golden retriever


This was commissioned from the Netherlands, but I was in Dallas so had to make do with photo’s. If at all possible I prefer to makes sketches from life. But I will take commissions using photographs.

And the internet makes it easy to send photos, make sketches and share them, and discuss the final painting.

The style was to be somewhat 18th century, a real state portrait! I used oils on marouflé, painting board, covered with Belgian portrait linen, this makes for a very stable panel, of very fine quality.

The final pencil sketch:


The painting in progress


The finished painting!


At the Dallas Aquarium, the finished oil painting!

At The Dallas Aquarium or why you should stop playing with your smartphone and pay attention
At The Dallas Aquarium
or why you should stop playing with your smartphone and pay attention

So this is the real thing, I brought a HUGE canvas, it’s 2 meter by 1,5 meter. That’s 80” by 60” in inches.

I usually start of with a grisaille base painting.

At the Dallas Aquarium sketch
At the Dallas Aquarium sketch

For lack of an easel, (my stuff had not arrived yet) I hung the painting on the wall. Not ideal, but it worked. I had different sizes of steps to reach different parts of the canvas. Luckily I didn’t fall off any of them, although there have been some close calls! Unlike the water color sketch I now started out with working on the Water world. This is because oil paint is a different medium,  so requires a different approach. I really wanted the colors to stand out, and of course the foreground had to stand out really crisp and sharp so had to be finished last.


So here it is: the finished painting. it’s official title is:

At the Dallas Aquarium

Or why you should stop playing with your smartphone and pay attention

1-aMy stepdaughter and her daughter gazing at the underwater miracles.

I really love this painting. It was a lot of work and took a lot of time. But I think the monumental size works very well for the subject, And the subject… only very rarely does one get such a special vision, something so unique. it really happens only every ten years maybe.

Dallas Aquarium, the color sketch

Look at this fun development of the color sketch!
The thing was to find out if I could get this juxtaposition of light right.
(See the black and white sketch here)

There are two worlds overlapping here. There is the world of water, where color is subdued into a greenish bluish palette, and everything is diffuse. And then there is the world of air with sharp contrast, also in the lighting, warm lamps and stark shadows.
Só fascinating!

A white piece of water color paper and the figures of the world of air.


The fish and rocks are sketched in,


The water world is colored in. I thought it worked.


Next installment will be the preparation and the base painting on the gigantic canvas!

I didn’t finish this one :(

So I was getting along fine, I had brought oil paints this time and I almost finished but I had to get back to the Netherlands. Another problem is that I haven’t been able to score some normal white spirit yet. Everything I have brought in America smells really nasty and gives me a bad throat ache. It must be very unhealthy 😦  The stuff I brought was expensive too! The effect is that I really can’t paint for longer than three hours, and then I need some fresh air.

So this was the start, in acrylic:

And then I painted the thunder clouds, the pegasus is going to be black

But the pegasus is only in the ground layer. So it looks a bit flat still. As per usual I got some paint from the lightning on my sleeve and smeared it over the sky. I already managed to clean that up. pffffff!

Now this is fun! I used ”auto color correction” on my photo, and this is almost how it’s supposed to look when it is finished!

I’m glad I noticed those white blotches and could remove them, imagine I noticed them only now! Anyway, it’s really funny to see what I had in mind about this painting after the ”auto adjust”! Now I will ahve to wait to really finish it until I am back in America.

Illustrations straight into a printed book!

I have been having some fun! I love the members of Basenotes, the perfume forum I visit almost every day. I wanted to do something nice for my friends on Base notes so I have been re-binding and illustrating two old pocket books. It’s a great suspense novel by Ngaio Marsh: ”False Scent”. There is of course a theme of a very special perfume which runs through it, and I have my idea what it would smell like, and the game is going to be that who-ever guesses it gets one of the books.

So here are the covers, inside is a little vial where you can put your perfume if you like.

I drew the illustrations directly in the book, in the empty spots.

The fatal perfume is presented!

Inspector Alleyn inspects the body…

Portrait of Dior

Dior is a good friend, and so is dr Roxs, his private attendant, trainer, and stable boy.
Dior has a very elegant head, and carries it beautifully, he is also very dependable and very kind. It was a pure joy painting this sympathetic horse.

I started off with a beautiful canvas, very good quality solid wood, covered with the best quality linen. The linen is stretched the ”wrong way around”, so the beautiful greyish green natural linen is up front.

This is real quality, this will last!
Now, before you can paint on linen you need to size it, with gesso or acrylic. Of course this means you loose the linen color, and some of the texture. To keep the linen as it is, while still be able to paint on it I sized it with Lascaux imprègne.

To get a start I did a quick line drawing in acrylic. The drawback on this style is that I can’t really make a mistake because I can never get rid of it.

When I am satisfied with the line drawing, and confident it will be a good likeness, with all Dior’s proportions and personality.

Then I put on some basic color, very ”meager” quite thin. This is one type of painting where I want to keep the paint thin, showing lots of handwriting. Again, if I mess up I cannot scrape it off and start afresh. Basically I do give up the advantages of oilpaint.

Painting several more layers actually takes time. I don’t want to mess up by putting too much paint on the canvas, which is só easy to do! Neither do I want to become too fiddly, to precise, which is also much easier to do than keeping it fresh and straightforward.
It’s really difficult to explain, but it is easier to do an over painted, over detailed, over ”photographically-realistic” painting than keeping a grip on yourself and stopping before you get bogged down.
and trust your hand!

Especially the final touches have to be spot on, right color, right place, right thickness.
It’s best not to think too much about it…

The real test of course is when Diors personal attendant gets to see it…

More about that later!

Wall painting in Amsterdam part 1

I have been spending a lot of time in Amsterdam, off and on, and have been working on this very large wall painting in the library of an 18th century canal house.
The idea is that the wall painting should have an eighteenth century connection, without it looking like we tried to ”fake” it, a modern feeling should be there as well.
As an inspiration we chose the Chinese wall paper at Nostell Priory. It is exceptionally beautiful, it was supplied by Chippendale who designed the chinoiserie furniture to go with it. It is however very ”busy”. I went for a more balanced custom design to fit the dimensions of the room. Also, the brush strokes, and my ”handwriting” will be clearly discernible.

The Chinese wall painting and Chippendale furniture at Nostell Priory.

My design for the right side of the room, with the fireplace:

The room! There are bits of wall to be painted on every wall except the windows.

The base color is finished, it is really three colors on top of each other, the last one very subtly sponged to make the color look less of a solid block.

The sketch. I paint directly on thge wall, I don’t use a magnifier which projects a drawing on the wall. This is of course more difficult, but it is also a lot more spontaneous.

The colors of the tree and the flowers. It is going to be very gay. The crane is almost finished

The bird is talking to the crane. One wonders what they are up to when the lights go out and nobody is in the room…

The painting is finished. Sort of. I am still wondering if I shouldn’t change a few bits here and there. Now the books with all their colors are in their cases, and the pretty knick-knacks are on the shelf, it looks very much integrated into the room.

An Artist’s Interests

We had this talk on another blog, and a blogging buddy said something like, ”It is not only art which matters, but also all the things one does besides making art which defines the artist”

That is something I have always agreed with, and which at times I find very difficult to explain, especially to my mother who always thought I was wasting time when I spend a lot of time and effort in one of my ”non-high-art” projects. But I think it is an inevitable part of ones existence as an artist. I don’t think I know any fellow artist who doesn’t have one or more ”hobbies” next to making art. I think we all ”collect” stuff for example. Maybe antiques of an unusual kind, or just simply ”Objects de Virtue”, but I cannot call to mind any artist of my acquaintance who does not collect something.
I definitely am a shocking collector! I collect books, porcelain, jewelery,  antique fans, you name it, I collect it…

I also have many interests which are related to my art, yet also apart from it. I play the concert flute, I have trained as a western saddle maker, I have trained as a silversmith, (I love jewelry) I make my own clothes, I can repair my own shoes, I restore antique fans. I am always busy with some project or other.

So I have decided that for this blog to be complete, I should not just constrain it to the art I make, but also to the interests surrounding it. So I will also be posting on all the other little and big things which occupy my mind and my time.